Industry News: Eisler, Hocking and Self-Publishing

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In the wake of Barry Eisler’s surprising revelation that he turned down a $500,000 publishing offer in order to self-publish (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html) came the little tidbit that Amanda Hocking is thisclose to signing a $1,000,000+ deal for a 4-book series with a traditional publisher (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/noted-self-publisher-may-be-close-to-a-book-deal/). Some of you might wonder: what the heck is going on here?

It seems to me like all this commotion illustrates what a transitional state publishing is in right now. Here’s what we know about the industry:

  • Print sales are decreasing, and are bound to continue doing so given the closing of many bookstores (Borders bk) and the alleged scaling down of available space in others (Barnes & Noble).
  • Electronic sales are skyrocketing and all signs point to that trend continuing.

So what does this mean for the new or aspiring author?

In the past most authors strived to be traditionally published. Digital publishing, when it came around, was either something for the niche market or else a stop for the author on the train of hope to the NY publishers. Things are changing. With electronic sales skyrocketing and e-publishers offering authors better deals for e-books than traditional publishers (35-40% royalty vs. 25% royalty), writers are starting to wonder whether that big NY contract is all it used to be. Now, with the increasing popularity of self-publishing (70% royalty on Amazon for books $2.99+), writers are starting to wonder whether a publisher is necessary at all.

It’s my personal opinion that the enterprising author will diversify herself. It’s difficult to ignore the print market, with print books still making up approx. 70% of sales. And I don’t know about you, but I’d still like to see my book on the bookshelf of my local bookstore (provided there still is one in a few years. Sad smile) But at the same time, it doesn’t seem prudent to dig your head in the sand and pretend like the digital revolution isn’t going on right now in front of our very eyes. Writers who try to ignore that may find themselves in a world of financial pain.

With the Eisler and Hocking news, I have to wonder too: is the grass always greener? Each of these fabulous authors knows exactly what it’s like to be in the position they are in. They want to experience the other side of the equation. Pure human nature. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out. Will Eisler stay self-published? Will Hocking find a home in the traditional publishing market?

I guess only time will tell.

Your turn to spill. What are your thoughts on the industry shake-up and the self-publishing explosion?

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16 thoughts on “Industry News: Eisler, Hocking and Self-Publishing

    Rachel Firasek said:
    March 23, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I still like the idea of having an editor and a house to plant my books in, but I’m not as confident in my writing yet. Maybe one day….

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 8:20 am

      I like it too, Rachel, but I also like the idea of being able to put something up for sale and actually measure the results, day by day. There’s so much freedom in that, since you could adjust the sales price accordingly. You could see what actually works and doesn’t. The thought of that is very tempting. And there are a lot of fab freelance editor out there. 🙂

    Ciara Knight said:
    March 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Insightful. I’m hoping mom and pop bookstores will return. The old fashioned book swap stores and stuff where you know the owner personally. No more large chains. Ah, I love the thought. I know, it affects me as a writer, but as a reader I miss the personal little shops.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

      I really hope that too, Ciara. I can’t imagine a world with no bookstores. It would be nice to see a return of smaller, more intimate bookstores or even niche stores.

    Cid said:
    March 23, 2011 at 9:21 am

    It’s totally a situation that makes one stop and think.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that I want to try to have my books published in the traditional manner. I want to tell people, “Yes, you can go to [book store name] and get my book in the [genre] section.”

    On the flip side? Not everything is publishable and not everything is going to be a huge hit seller and sell out. I think if someone was very smart they could work both traditional and electronic publishing in their favor. Sure, write the contemporary romance or urban fantasy that’s going to get your book on shelves, but don’t stop writing your niche market stuff either – because you can sell that successfully online. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think that for those of us who are trying to be published, we need to diversify.

    Aaannndd that’s my rambling answer… sorry, lol!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

      It’s not rambling at all, Cid. I think diversification is key, especially in this environment.

    Maureen O. Betita said:
    March 23, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Very well put! And I think you’re right reg. being prudent and diversify. For an established author to go the self-published path makes more sense to me then the first timer.

    It helps a great deal to have someone to hold your hand in that first plunge. But once you know how to swim, why not strike out on your own now and then?

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 10:02 am

      Self publishing seems like a great option for established authors who have an established fan base and who’ve gotten their rights back on previously published works. They know the piece they’re putting out is of decent quality. But it’s not impossible for unpublished authors to put out good work and attract a fan base. It’s just very hard. 🙂

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    March 23, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I think there are more questions right now than answers. Hocking parleyed her self-publishing success into negotiations with a NY pub – might work for her, might not. Her success is unusual and frankly, the big question is, as always, is she a one-trick pony, or does she have a fan base that will follow her anywhere, regardless of price, and can she write the way NY will want her to write.
    You never know…The Time Traveler’s Wife was a blockbuster. The author’s next book, for which she received mega-bucks, was a bust.
    It will be interesting to follow the NY authors who are turning down contracts to self-pub. I can’t wait to hear what they think about the process and the results.
    Like I said, so many more questions than answers…

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

      So true, Julia. It’s impossible to predict how things will shake out, but I sure am interested to find out.

    desiree said:
    March 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    hi i still love the books and the covers they have on them the stores closing i now we have 4 in our area that will be closing soon the e book are ok but i have e reader and it last only 4 hr and then i read up to 2 book DAY and then i can get them to the e reader five me book and i read

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      There are a lot of Borders closures in my area too, including the bookstore I went to every week. Sad days. 😦

    Steven Konkoly said:
    March 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I couldn’t imagine turning down a 500k advance…actually, I’d take it and quit my day job to write full time. But I will very carefully consider a small or medium press offer, because I think I can do better in nearly every aspect of managing my novel. As a first time author, and self publisher, I am seeing exactly what Joe Konrath and a few other outspoken self-pub authors are seeing (except for thousands of sales a day).

    Four months into the release of my novel, I have developed a solid reader base that continues to grow, at a consistent linear rate. As an analytical type, I did some magic with Excel…and the trend lines for weekly and daily sales (nice thing to have this data from Amazon) leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Same thing with the reviews (most of them). If this book had been launched traditionally, four months later I would likely have to hire a specialized search and rescue team to find a copy of my book in a brick and mortar shop.

    That’s where it makes the most sense to me. This book will always be a few clicks (or maybe a few more than that) away from a potential reader/buyer. As long as I keep it on Amazon. Two years from now…what’s the chance that someone will stumble across the one copy buried in a sea of book spines in the fiction section of Barnes and Noble.

    That said…I’m still very open to any 500k offers.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      I hear you, Steven. My hubby is pushing me to go for self-pubbing full blast because he likes the ability to see how many sales you’re making.(I know, actually seeing your sales, what a revolutionary idea, huh?) But I wouldn’t turn down 500k either. 🙂

    Deana Birks said:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Borders is closing in all of its locations in our city. I’ll admit, I cried when I went there for the last time. I used to live in the apartment complex next to them when I was dating my husband, and it’s the first outing each of our children took when they were born. To imagine a future with no bookstores at all is too much for me.

    I am excited about some of the possibilities of self-publishing and ebooks though. I’ve always felt I don’t fit in and fear of not fitting anywhere has held me back in my writing. It’s very freeing to know that if what I write ends up not appealing to Big Publishers, it doesn’t have to languish in my nightstand drawer.

    (100% off-topic — I love your header!)

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      March 28, 2011 at 8:15 am

      I agree with you, Deana. I will be so sad if all my local bookstores disappear. (To date there’s only one left: a B&N.) But on the other hand all the change going on right now is pretty exciting.

      And thanks! I love the header too. 🙂

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